Do we say “Google it” because the search engine is the biggest player in the industry? Or is Google dominating Internet search because we say “Google it”?
Here’s why I think their success is more reliant on our vernacular than we think — and how this mentality can change the whole game of digital marketing.
It’s something that almost everyone says. When your family or friends talk about searching the Internet, they say, “I Googled it.”
That makes sense. It’s often what everyone does. With 72.48% of the world’s market share in search and 1.6 billion unique monthly visitors, Google is definitely dominating the search engine industry.
Because it’s used so much, it’s easy to fall into the verbal pattern of telling someone that they should “Google it.”
But I don’t.
I admit it was catchy when the buzz phrase first became a thing. Yet once I had a realization about what I was doing, I put in some serious effort to stop. I pinpointed the moments when I would say it, then trained myself to say “Internet search” or simply “look it up.”
Seems like a silly thing to do. Yet to me, it was (and still is) the right thing to do.
No, I’m not about to stand on a soap box and declare Google as an evil empire. Nor will I whine about how we’re just marketing Google for free by slipping it into our vernacular.
This is about our mindset and how it’s limiting our marketing possibilities. I’ll give you an example.
If you know what the dial-up tone sounded like during the dot-com era, then you remember Yahoo. In fact, it probably was your go-to search engine at the time for exploring the World Wide Web.
That’s because Yahoo (an acronym for Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle) was the search engine king of the digital landscape, reaching a worth of $125 billion by 2000.
In fact, it even placed a $3 million bid on Google back in 2002. Imagine the search engine landscape if Google didn’t turn down the deal.
No, seriously. Think about it. If Yahoo remained champion of all things Internet search, would we now say, “Yahoo it”?
We all know that didn’t happen. Just take a look at Yahoo’s struggle over the years.
That’s just my point. We didn’t limit ourselves to just saying “Yahoo it” because we didn’t limit ourselves decades ago to just surfing the web through Yahoo. We also used Google and AltaVista and Ask Jeeves and WebCrawler and Lycos and HotBot and Excite.
Times Have Changed & So Have We
Chances are, if you’re searching something online, you’re probably using Google. You’re not jumping from search engine to search engine, trying to find the best search results.
Today, we’re more about efficiency. If we can find what we think we are looking for on one search engine, then we’ll always use that search engine.
As marketers, it makes sense that we focus our SERP and PPC efforts on Google. If we want our target audience to find us, we better be easily found where they’re searching.
But I’m not writing this blog post to change your marketing strategy. I want you to see that you’re holding yourself back with a mindset like this.
This is Why I Don’t Say “Google It”
Honestly, it has nothing at all to do with Google or search engines. It has more to do with how our thoughts impact our interactions with our digital landscape.
I don’t say “Google it” because I don’t like how we perceive the possibilities around us. We’re limiting ourselves without even realizing it.
Saying “Google it” puts us in a mindset that Google is the only search engine option. But we know it’s not. There’s Bing. There’s Yahoo. And a whole bunch more you don’t even know about.
(Yes, many search engines today are powered by the web crawlers owned by Google and Microsoft. But there’s a whole database of web-crawling bots spidering the Internet.)
If you say “Google it,” there’s a high probability that it’s the only search engine you use. And, I’m guessing, an even higher probability that it’s the search engine you’ll use for your next search.
It’s hard to argue that making Google a buzzword in our vocabulary is the reason why it dominates the search engine world.
So let’s not talk about everyone else. Let’s talk just about you. Do you say “Google it” when it comes to a digital search? What’s your go-to search engine? What search engine will you use for your next Internet search?
My point is this: We limit our possibilities when we tell ourselves that we have one option and do things in one way.
As marketers, we miss our chance to shake up the way we do things for the better when we keep wearing these blinders. As customers, we lose our buying power when we let the industry dictate how we do things.
How Not Saying “Google It” Has Changed My Life
At first, it didn’t change my search habits at all. Even though I didn’t say “Google it,” I still typed in Google when I wanted to search something.
As time went on, and saying “look it up” or “Internet search” was now natural for me to say, I wanted to check out other search engines. And I found it a valuable use of my time.
For example, I found that my most popular blog posts ranked differently across search engines. And that Google is definitely not the best search engine for images.
But if I stuck to the same-o same-o “Google it” mentality, I never would have discovered new search options. Others may disagree with my new preferences and that’s okay. Because I didn’t limit myself to one solution, I found better solutions for me.
Now I wonder how else I’m limiting myself…